If you are in business for yourself, you might be interested in learning about trademarks and possibly registering a trademark for your company.
Owning a trademark is appealing to people because they hope that one day, their particular brand may receive universal recognition. This universal recognition can make your company become more profitable than you may have imagined.
Historically, famous trademark names like Levi Strauss Jeans, Dutch Boy, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola have made life long impressions on millions of people. There are trademarks on other things that you may not have thought of like sounds. In 1924, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer registered the sound of a lion roaring. When you go to the movies today, you’ll hear that sound and associate it with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie productions. Even the design of buildings can be trademarked. The famous McDonald’s golden arches are trademarked.
Images can be trademarked and they have powerful effects on consumers. The most reproduced image in the world is that of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. There are over 7,500 items that have that image on it. The second most reproduced image is that of Jesus. Surely you’ve seen thousands of products with his image on them. You may be surprised to know that the third most reproduced image is of Elvis Presley and he “ain’t nothing but a hound dog.”
The average person knows what these symbols, sounds and words mean and generally that is good for business because of their universal appeal. So how does that affect you and your new business?
Suppose you have been dreaming of a new product or already have a great product and a very unique name for that product. You will want to make sure that you and your company are the people who benefit from your brilliance. You don’t want other people using this name to generate profits for themselves which will ultimately diffuse your profit making efforts. The best thing to do is to get a trademark for your name, idea or product.
Cost of Trademarking
This is perhaps the first question on your mind. It has a complicated answer. There are fees involved in getting a trademark and they vary. You may be able to complete the process for as low as $325.00 or if you have a lawyer handle it for you, you could be looking at several thousand dollars in fees.
How To Trademark
The government has a special procedure for you to apply for a trademark. Perhaps the easiest thing for you to do is to call them at 1-800 786-9199. If you want to be a bit more prepared to talk to them, you’ll need to find out if the idea you have is already trademarked. You can use a trademark search at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
You can apply online for a trademark, but you must be able to provide information in a timely fashion. They have strict deadlines that must be met to process your application. You will need to provide the name of the applicant, name and address for correspondence, a clear drawing of your symbol or the words you want trademarked, the goods or services you intend to provide and a filing fee.
Once you submit that information, a lawyer will research it and decide whether it will be approved. This procedure may take up to two months. Once it is approved, they will print a public notice in the the Official Gazette. The public is given 30 days to issue a protest against your filing if they can prove that your trademark will be damaging to their business. If you make it through that step, then within 3 months you will be issued a NOTICE OF ALLOWANCE. Then you have six months to notify them of your intended STATEMENT OF USE plan. Once that is sent in and approved, you will be issued a REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE.
Do you think it’s worth your time and effort to register a trademark? I’m sure Levi Strauss did!